Everyone tells you that you should be putting money aside, and that savings are important. But what no one tells you is how much you should actually have saved up. How much is too little? How much is enough? Is there any sort of guideline you can follow?
In order to answer that question, you need to take into consideration that there are different types of savings and different needs. The amount will depend on each category.
First thing’s first – everyone should ideally have some sort of emergency stash set aside. Not quite a nest egg, but a relative sum that could cover a quick, short-term expense without having to dip into grocery money.
You could pay for say, an emergency car repair, the replacement of a household appliance, an emergency dental procedure, perhaps a last minute plane ticket, etc. The point is to be able to spend this money on the spot, without having to get a personal loan.
Around £1,000 can be an initial goal, and you can keep adding to that, once you’re doing better financially and can afford to save more money for these kinds of situations. For now, aim for at least a grand.
Now, when preparing for a longer-term expense, the “rule” is typically to save enough to be able to live comfortably for 3 to 6 months. This nest egg is for other types of emergency situations or sudden or otherwise unexpected changes in lifestyle. Redundancy is something we should all be prepared for, and part of it is making sure you have living expenses prepared for the foreseeable future.
You may injure yourself and be unable to work for a while, or maybe you’re forced to be put on leave, either for disciplinary reasons, medical reasons (like unpaid maternity leave), or maybe you just need a mental health break. Whatever the reason, this money is necessary. Obviously, the exact amount is going to depend on what your wage is and what your living expenses are.
When you get to retirement savings, things get a little tricky, because it’s not quite as simple. Retirement is a serious, long-term deal and your future depends on how well you plan in advance and how kind you are now to your future self.
The aim with retirement savings is to be able to provide a comfortable life for yourself in your twilight years. But with our increased life expectancy and rising living costs, you may find that you need to save more and more in order to ensure a decent living in a few decades.
They say you need to start saving for retirement when you’re 20 if you want to be able to only save just over £100 per month. If you leave it until later decades, that amount sharply increases to around £500 per month or even more, which is not nearly as affordable. Of course, you are also more likely to have a large income in later decades than you do in your twenties, but it’s still always good to start saving ahead of time.
It’s not enough to want to have a treat, a holiday, a frivolous expense, etc. – you need to earn it and save for it. It’s possible to go on holiday even on the smallest of budgets, but that requires saving in advance, saving diligently, and maintaining very good discipline.
Saving techniques abound (Which gives you 50 different ones!), and their success depends on your spending habits and how much you actually need to save. Obviously, a specific amount is irrelevant here, since it depends on the holiday you are planning, your destination, the number of people, etc.
What we can talk about is how you can save money on planning your holiday: book as much as you can in advance, travel during off-season, and avoid places and activities geared towards tourists as much as possible.